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Fundamental Principles for Bioscientists

Module titleFundamental Principles for Bioscientists
Module codeBIO1333
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Professor Mark Ramsdale (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

As bioscientists you need to be equipped with skills that allow you to work in a safe, competent and confident manner. You will be trained in basic laboratory skills and safety issues and given guidance on experimental design, data handling, basic statistical analysis and introduced to simple programming concepts. In this module you will be introduced to a range of practical and transferable skills in areas including scientific writing, teamwork, the use of subject specific software and databases and good research practice. Aspects of personal development will be discussed and employment / career options assessed.

In order to take BIO1333 you must normally have an A Level (or equivalent) in Biology.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module introduces you to the key principles of safe laboratory practice and experimental design. You will gain some working knowledge of statistical techniques and be taught elements of programming relevant to the discipline. Emphasis will be placed on personal development planning to make sure you have the skills necessary to enhance your performance in all Stages as well as to improve employability. Core skills relevant to modules in year 1, and progression to year 2 will be covered through a mix of online and hands-on activities.

Graduate attributes: as part of this module you will gain essential practical skills, develop team work skills and develop an ability to work independently.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Recount general laboratory investigations in biosciences
  • 2. Illustrate essential facts and theory in experimental design and data analysis
  • 3. Communicate ideas effectively by written, oral and visual means
  • 4. Perform basic database management and programming tasks relevant to the biosciences
  • 5. Reflect upon personal development

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Summarise essential facts and theory in a sub-discipline of the biosciences
  • 7. Evaluate aspects of the biosciences with reference to text-books and with guidance evaluate aspects of the research literature
  • 8. Deploy with confidence some established techniques of analysis, practical investigation and enquiry within the biosciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. With some guidance, begin to develop the skills necessary for independent study
  • 10. With some guidance, select and manage information drawn for a variety of sources
  • 11. Interact effectively in a group

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Lectures covering: general study skills, general laboratory procedures, lab books, units and calculations, safety, presentation skills, data handling, statistics and use of operating systems and programming in the biological sciences.

Workshops / tutorials covering: statistics and practical computing for biologists.

Small group tutorials examining: aspects of cutting edge research relevant to the biosciences and evaluating research literature and meet the academic presentation

Laboratory practicals covering: chemical preparation, basic good laboratory practice, good microbiological practice (aseptic technique), standardisation, and safety, care and use of the bright field light microscope.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching16Lectures (16 x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching15Laboratory skills (5 x 3 hours and ad hoc)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Skills-based drop-in feedback/recap/Q&A sessions (5 x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Small academic group tutorials and presentation (5 x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching8Maths and practical computing workshops (4 x 2 hours)
Guided Independent Study20Skill sessions write-up
Guided Independent Study5Virtual learning environment tasks
Guided Independent Study46Lecture consolidation and reading
Guided Independent Study30Revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Virtual learning environment tasks5 x 1 hour1-10Online
Presentation 1 hour1-3, 6-11Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
MCQ examination341 hour1-4, 6-7, 9-10Model answers
Scientific essay331000 words1-4, 6-7, 9-10Written and tutorial
Practical problem sets33Online ELE assessments1-11Online model answers
MCQ online plagiarism test03, 4Online model answers


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
MCQ examinationMCQ examination1-4, 6-7, 9-10August Ref/Def
Scientific essayScientific essay1-4, 6-7, 9-10August Ref/Def
Practical problem setsNot applicableScientific essayNot applicableNot applicable
MCQ online plagiarism testMCQ online plagiarism test3, 4Not applicableAugust Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The laboratory/practical assessments are not deferrable because of their practical nature. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination or submit a further assessment. TThe mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative basic reading list:

  • Campbell NA, Reece JB (2008) Biology, 8th Ed. Pearson. ISBN 0-321-53616-7/0-321-53616-9

Materials for academic tutorials will be from literature provided by each academic

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE page:

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Safety, laboratory skills, GLP, GMP, pipette handling, aseptic technique, electrophoresis, titration, microscopy, statistics, programming, research skills, presentation skills, experimental design, data analysis, employability, study resources, personal development

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date